I spent a spring semester studying documentary photography at Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. The following summer I stuck around because I really liked both Salt and Portland, Maine. I helped manage the school’s dark room that summer.
One aspect of studying photography at Salt then was the weekly critiques where you pinned on the wall b&w prints representing the progress of the work you were doing. That summer a new batch of students were there and I liked to look in to see their work they put up on the wall for the critiques.
I week I noticed some really nice work of migrant workers. I believe they were picking Asparagus. One photo I particularly liked was one of the workers attending a church service. Everyone was praying and facing forward except one child who looked back curiously staring straight into the camera lens. I was intrigued and asked Salt photography instructor Todd Hoffman who took the photo. He told me it was by Amy Toensing.
Like me Toensing also attended Ohio University Viscom. Since then Toensing has gone on to become a National Geographic photographer.
Another thing we have in common now is that she is using online crowd sourcing to raise funds for a photography project. I used the site called The Point which is what Groupon evolved from. Over about a period of five years I raised $10,000 for my project to photograph Peace Corps volunteers. I would estimate the funds from The Point covered about a third of my expenses. The rest of the project was self funded. In fact I’m still paying off debts from the travels for that project.
About the time my campaign “tipped” The Point seemed to be on the decline as the founders were putting all their energies into Groupon. It was a bit of a challenge to get the funds paid out to me once the campaign tipped.
Now it appears that Kickstarter is the go to crowd source site. Amy Toesnsing has her campaign there.Her campaign is titled “In The Shadows: Urban Refugee Children”. The subtitle reads “Refeugee children are adrift in Africa’s city slums. Send National Geographic photographer Amy Toensing there to give them a voice.” Go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/toensing/in-the-shadows-urban-refugee-children for more info and to pledge. With a minimum pledge of $1 you can support this project. As I write this 90 backers have pledged $9,290. There is 30 days to go on the campaign. It has to reach at least $10,000 by Friday, March 15, 2013 to receive the funds. The Point worked the same way - your campaign had to reach a goal to be funded. As mentioned before mine was also $10,000. However, I did not have a time limit. It was open ended, and it took me a lot longer to reach my goal. Of course, I’m not a National Geographic or well-known photographer.
Please support Amy to get her project to its goal and look for other photographer’s projects on crowd source sits to fund, because it is a really tough environment to get funding these days, and backing such a talented photographer as Amy Toensing is worth it. Not only is she very talented she is also a gracious and nice person. I feel privileged to have seen her work from the start, and I look forward to seeing her work when she completes this project.
If any photographers reading this are thinking of using crowd sourcing to fund a project I recommend it, but it takes a lot of work. If anyone has any questions about my experience with this form of funding feel free to contact me.